Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review: The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability

The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability
The Vegetarian Myth: Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This author is obviously angry at being fooled into believing that a vegan lifestyle would be better for her and the planet, and the book is an impassioned argument against such beliefs. Her arguments against the three main arguments for vegetarianism (ecologic, moral, and health) also appear quite strong, although I suspect there is some handwaving at times where the science gets beyond her. In particular, I noted the use of "chemfear" (the belief that "if you can't pronounce it it must not be good for you") in a few places, and there's other spots where I'm not convinced that she's connected all the dots. But there's enough here to at least make one question the merits of the positions she rails again, which are often held with a religious fervor.

Vegans will hate this book, as will many vegetarians, as she calls them childish and ignorant. (I suspect this accounts for many of the "1 star" ratings I'm seeing.) But, sadly, she is right on both counts, certainly with respect to vegans and also with respect to many vegetarians. And while I think her closing recommendations are problematically impractical for many people, she admits that she doesn't have all the answers. But at least she is putting the questions on the table. Unfortunately, the closing of the book includes an excessively aggressive indictment of liberals, the American left, and men, which will tend to put off people who do not share her beliefs in radicalism and feminism. Bad bridge-building there that mars an otherwise very good book.

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